Caffeine In College: Don't Fall For The Trap

Caffeine. Coffee. Yerba Mate. Five Hour Energy Shots. Redbull. Mountain Dew. College calls for long days, late nights and plenty of distractions, and what do we resort to in return? Caffeine! Lucky for us college students, caffeine is available nearly everywhere in almost every form. Yes, caffeine can be great.. but when? In what form? In what dose? These questions are all crazy important to consider when looking for the perfect pick-me-up. College has entirely glorified caffeine consumption. I see students in the library with multiple cups of coffee joined by energy shots sitting near their notebooks. And so many empty cans of Yerba Mate lying around the desk of one student. I see lattes being purchased with 3 extra shots. No! Not good! Stop! 

This natural resort to too much caffeine is unhealthy both cognitively and physically, and it must not be glorified in the college scene as it currently is. Yes, classes are hard. Yes, schedules are busy. Yes, life is tiring. But this does not mean you can jeopardize your health for a shot of alertness that will throw you into a mental crash not too long after. Caffeine intake must be monitored. In appropriate doses, there are multiple studies that prove an array of different health benefits, especially when drinking it in its more natural form, such as coffee beans. But processed energy shots? Sodas with innumerous grams of sugar? Energy drinks with loads of additives? These should not even be considered. 

Don't get me wrong, I love a hot brewed cup of coffee every morning on my way to class. It gives me a kick of energy, I love the taste and I am ready to be productive. There are multiple studies that identify all the health benefits of coffee. So don't be afraid to drink it if your body can handle it. Some people get anxious after a few sips, others start to jitter and many can't sleep. If you do not have good experiences with caffeine, then avoid it! There is no pressure to be a "coffee drinker" simply because some around you are. But if you already are or are looking for a solution to your drained out self, consider fresh brewed coffee. Here's why. 

According to a 2017 literary review of 201 meta-analyses of observational research in 135 articles with 67 unique outcomes and 17 meta-analyses of randomized trials, various conclusions were made linking healthy dosages of coffee to health benefits. The review saw that "coffee consumption was consistently associated with a lower risk of mortality from all causes of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke in a non-linear relation." Moreover, high versus low coffee consumption was linked to lower risks of cancer: "high versus low coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer, 39 endometrial cancer, 40 melanoma, 41 oral cancer, 39 leukemia, 38 non-melanoma skin cancer and liver cancer." Coffee intake was also linked to lower risk of Type II Diabetes. In relation to cognitive decline, coffee consumption was consistently associated with lower risk of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's. However, subjects that drank over 3 cups a day saw rather harmful effects. Due to being more sensitive to caffeine, some subjects experienced headaches as a result of too much consumption. Other people experienced a concerningly high rise in their heart rates, and some, due to sensitive stomachs and the acidity of coffee, felt gastroesophageal pain. Particularly, the acidic effects of coffee can be reduced by being sure to avoid its consumption on an empty stomach. Nonetheless, monitor your intake to healthy doses. 

So yes, coffee has its benefits! But don't fall for the trap in university to consuming too much than your body can handle! No, it's not cool. No, it's not healthy. No, it's not the right choice. Resort to low caffeinated teas, jugs of iced water or simply low glycemic index foods to give you a natural form of energy, such as freshly squeezed orange juice. Enjoy your coffee if you would like, but not to the extent that is being glorified. It's no good for you!

It is recommended that developing teens do not have more than 100mg per day, pregnant woman should not go over 200 mg, young adults should not exceed 200mg and those with greater body masses can enjoy up to 3. It is also extremely important to consider how one metabolizes caffeine. Some metabolize it very quickly, having the effects wear off far sooner, where others hold onto it for hours. Others have greater body mass indexes, allowing their body to tolerate more caffeine. There is no direct answer, but be sure to always understand how your body is reacting. You feel weird? Too much energy? Can't sleep? Cut it down! 

I'm off to have my first cup of the day now. Exciting stuff. Always remember-- you can enjoy your cup of joe, just don't over do it!